Scotch-Irish-L Archives

Archiver > Scotch-Irish > 1998-02 > 0887262099

From: Robert Long <>
Subject: Re: More On Riding The Goat
Date: Thu, 12 Feb 1998 13:41:39 +0800

Thursday, 12 February 1998

Not sure how this subject wended its way into Scots-Irish affairs; however,
the following is offered for what it is worth:

On page 150, of Charles Earle Funk's book, "Heavens To Betsy & Other
Curious Sayings" (1955), Funk opines (without qualification) that the
expression probably originated with some Greek-letter college fraternities
in the United States. He claims that the expression first appeared in
print in Chapter XIX of George Wilber Peck's book, "Peck's Bad Boy & His
Pa," which was published in 1883.

I've been a Master Mason (hardly a "Grand-Master") since 1959 & have heard
the time-worn expression of "riding the goat," within Masonic circles as
well as elsewhere. Despite visiting various Lodges in over 30 countries
during the past 30 years, I've encountered no literal application of the
phrase within Freemasonry. In the main, modern Freemasonry, amongst its
bona-fide jurisdictions, is no secret, but has its secrets. I know of no
goat roaming openly or clandestinely within the Craft.

The phrase does surface in non-Masonic fraternal circles. In one instance
I know of, "riding the goat" did have a literal ritualistic application
(albeit in a purely positive & symbolic vein) with the American national
secondary fraternity, Phi Lambda Epsilon. The fraternity was founded at
the Clinton Academy (Missouri) on 04 February 1892. Whether Phi Lambda
Epsilon still exists, or not, is unknown. The proliferation of the
secondary fraternity in the United States reached its peak in the 1930s &
1940s, & was in a steady decline by the early 1960s.

Perhaps, someone more qualified can correct my understanding. Regardless,
the origin of the expression would be an interesting bit of trivia to know.



This thread: